Massive solar plant boost to Thai renewable hopes
Two Japanese industrial giants are backing Thailand's dream of generating a fifth of its energy from renewable sources.
Sharp Corporation will supply the cells for a huge solar power plant, which with a generating capacity of 73MW - among the world's largest.
The plant will be run by Natural Energy Development (NED), a Thai-based power company partly owned by a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation. It is expected to be operational by the end of 2011.
Thailand's year round sunny weather means it has an abundant supply of solar power and the sector is expected to grow rapidly over coming years, with government backing.
The thin-film solar cells that will be supplied by Sharp are optimal for use in a high-temperature climate, compared to crystalline solar cells which can still function effectively in cooler climes.
Sharp has experience in the mass production of this type of solar cell. The organisation will work with Thailand's biggest construction company, Italian-Thai Development to design and build the site.
The plant is being built in the Lop Buri province in the north of Thailand, famous for its monkeys and temples.
It is not a heavily industrialised region and its economy is fairly typical of rural Thailand, built on agriculture and tourism.